Pros: 1. ULTRA Cheap
2. Slightly warm pleasing tonality
3. Very good midrange
4. Good highs with slight sparkle
5. Good soundstage, imaging and separation
6. Excellent design and presentation
Cons: 1. Missing sub bass rumble
The unit has been sent to me from Cat Ear Audio as a part of a review circle. I am not working or affiliated to the brand and I am not being paid or influenced otherwise to say anything positive or negative about this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Note: Please note that my opinions and ratings are based on price, category, market competition and personal expectations and are subjective in nature.
Cat Ear Audio is a fairly new brand in the market with 3 products in their cat-elogue, the Mimi, the Tuxedo (earphone upgrade cable) and the Mia (IEM). This review is about the Cat Ear Mimi, it is a 9$ earbud, and have certainly gained popularity amongst audiophiles recently – what’s so special? That’s all the review is all about!
Build Quality and comfort
As soon as you unbox the Cat Ear Mimi, you start having the feel of a minimalistic but beautiful design. Then the question arises, 9$? Seriously? That’s the exact moment I realised, its going to be worth it! Inside a square shaped paper box, with a cat impression cut out on it, is a round shaped tin container. The tin container has a cat paw and the branding printed on it.
Inside the container, is the earbud and couple of donut style foams. The earbud itself, is beautifully designed. It has a transparent shell with mirror finished stem, the stem has the Cat Ear logo and Mimi imprinted on each side, and L-R markings on the underside.
The cable is tangle free cable, very lightweight and no microphonics.
The Mimi is quite lightweight and fits conveniently. Even for long listening hours, its comfortable and doesn’t cause any stress on the ears.
Overall, its really hard to justify the excellent build quality of the Mimi against the price it is available for. It surely looks better than the RY4S and VE Monk or Monk Plus, these are available almost at similar price range.
Bass on Mimi has decent quantity, and if I recall correctly, slightly more present that Monk Plus which I used to own a year ago. It has got good punch and doesn’t overpower other frequencies. Sub-bass presence is something it is lacking, the sub bass rumble is something I missed. Although with EQing this gets fixed. It has good mount of details in the lows and provides a warm and pleasing tonality to the Mimi.
The mids are highlight for me, they are really good and punches way above the price. It has a very good amount of details with appropriate forwardness. Mids sounds lush and smooth, vocals are natural and doesn’t usually sound congested.
Mimi as decent sparkle in the highs, which itself is a big achievement in its price range. The highs are detailed, not to forward but doesn’t lose its essence in the music. The overall warm tonality does slightly subdue the highs but makes them really good for long listening sessions, without missing out on those cymbal hits.
Soundstage, Imaging, Separation
Soundstage is another highlight of the Mimi, I feel its unrivalled in this price range, I have owned Monk Plus and still own HE150pro, HE150pro being some 30$ in its price, Mimi competes fairly with it but definitely does better than the Monks. Mimi has really good soundstage width and height, imaging is really good too. The instruments can be fairly pinpointed, supported by good separation provides an unique experience. I never felt any congestion in any frequency.
Source, drivability and scalability
Driving the Mimi is pretty easy, it can be driven off easily from a phone. Better sources does result in better experience although the differences are negligible as our sources becomes more complicated.
I have driven them off One Plus 6 phone, Ibasso DX160 3.5mm headphone out, Ibasso DX160 (line out) > Pico Power and Ibasso DX160 (line out) > Sapphire amp. DX160 3.5mm headphone out seems to be a decent source and above which the improvements are minimal.
To conclude, Mimi is an absolute no brainer for the price of 9USD, it has a really good tuning, unrivalled soundstage and imaging. This whole review is me being extremely critical about it without keeping the price in mind. It doesn’t sound out of the world, but then it doesn’t need to! In the times where people are spending thousands of dollars on audio gears, Mimi at such a price is an absolute gem and might as well be the best dollars ever spent for most of us.
My love for earbuds goes long back. I have tried and owned more earbuds ever as compared to IEMs. I just love how smooth, how open they sound and sometimes they don’t break the bank for that haha. Today I am here to review one such of a bud, The Cat Ear MiMi, a 9$ bud from Cat Ear Audio, a fairly new name in the audio industry. It is actually a new brand found recently. They currently have three products in the market, The Cat Ear Mia(IEM), The Cat Ear Tuxedo(Earphone Upgrade Cable), and the talk of the town, the Cat Ear MiMi(Ear Bud). So let’s begin with today’s review.
The unit was sent to me by Cat Ear Audio for the purpose of this review. I am not affiliated or paid by anyone to write positive or negative about the pair, all the impressions in this review are completely my own based on my usage with the pair.
Cat Ear MiMi:-
The Cat Ear MiMi is a budget-friendly pair of earbuds priced at just 9$. It features a large 15.4mm dynamic driver unit placed inside beautifully designed ear shells. The pair is designed by ShoonTH, the parent company of Cat Ear Audio. The pair is available to purchase from various online stores, In India, the MiMi is available to purchase from theaudiostore.in. Previously I have owned several pairs such as Ry4s MMCX, Ve Monk Plus around the same budget. Currently, I own a pair of Ve Monk Plus SL(Special upgrade cable version). So I will be comparing the MiMi against the Monk Plus SL though there is a huge price difference(9$ of MiMi vs 50$ of Monk Plus SL).
Packaging & Accessories:-
For a pair priced at just 9$, the MiMi comes in very beautiful packaging. It's actually a small rounded metal case with a Cat Pawprint on the top. The case holds the pair of MiMi and two pairs of donut style foams. The metallic case is more than enough to comfortably carry around the MiMi. Other than this there is nothing else, and what other glitters or shines one might expect from a pair priced at 9$ only.
>One pair of Cat Ear MiMi Earbuds.
>Two pairs of Donut Foams.
>One metallic case.
The MiMi is a very well built product. The ear shells are elegantly designed with transparent acrylic material. They have a silver trim on the top that has the Cat Ear logo printed on it. The shells are connected to a non-removable silver-plated cable that terminated at a 3.5mm plug. The pair is very nice to hold in hand and has a very elegant look to it. Cat Ear has done a brilliant job for the MiMi. From packaging to the build, the pair looks simply brilliant.
I have no issues with fit with the Cat Ear MiMi. The beautiful ear shells sit firmly into my ears. Since it's an earbud we all know there is no point to discuss noise isolation as that is average as with every other earbud I have tried so far.
Driving The Cat Ear MiMi:-
With an impedance rating of just 32 ohms and a sensitivity of 110dB/mW, the MiMi is very easy to drive. It can be enjoyed easily with a normal smartphone with a 3.5mm jack. I found no noticeable scaling with the pair with better sources like DAP or Topping E30+L30 combo. Here are my impressions on pairing with different sources.
With Honor View 10:-
The pair sounds melodious and smooth. There is no sibilance or background noise with this combo. There are no complaints, one can simply enjoy good quality music with MiMi and their smartphones.
There is not much scaling when used with the DX120. Though I must say the bass surely feels a bit more extended in this combo. Bass slams are better and goes deep with the DX120.
With Topping E30+L30:-
This might be an overkill for the bud. I used it at a low gain(-9dB). The background sounds cleanest, though other than that the sound is quite similar to the other two pairings. So not much scaling with better power. One thing to note is that this is the cleanest pairing for the MiMi, the other two pairings sounded a bit muddy to me.
To be honest, at 9$, I was not expecting much with the MiMi. But the pair sounds very melodious and smooth. It brings out beautiful vocals and presents one with a smooth, musical output. Though vocals get a bit shouty at louder volumes. Like they are too much into the face at louder volumes(Above 65 on DX120, about 3 ’o'clock on Topping combo, full volume on View 10). Bass slams are tight and impactful complementing the other frequencies well. Highs have a spark to them, making the pair shine with good detailing in instruments such as violins and flutes. Here’s a frequency wise response of the pair.
The lows are quite powerful considering this is an earbud. I found the pair to be shy in the sub-bass, there is not satisfactory rumble in the sub-bass portion. Though the pair behaves well in complex bass-heavy tracks such as Bad Guy by Billie Eilish but lacks some punch in sub-bass. The bass slams are precise and presented well complementing the other frequencies well. Have I heard better bass in earbuds? Surely yeah, but they are way above the price the MiMi is being offered for.
Now, this is where the melody comes from. The MiMi sounds like it has a mid-focused tuning. Vocals, acoustic instruments sound lush and detailed. They add a warm touch to the output making the output melodious and smooth. I found no fatiguing or sibilance even at louder volumes, though the vocals become too into the face at louder volumes. Other than that the pair produces fantastic details in mid-frequencies.
The treble response is pretty solid. The treble frequencies are smooth and relaxed. It doesn’t sound harsh or sibilant even in heavy metal tracks and retrieves a good level of details from the music. Overall I find the MiMi to have a relaxing, warm tonality providing a great listening experience for the users.
I find the soundstage to be intimate rather than being too wide or huge. But it is more than enough for the genres that I generally listen to such as Rock, Pop, EDM, and Bollywood Regional music. Instrument separation is quite good.
Comparison With VE Monk SL:-
There is a huge difference between these two in terms of price point. The MiMi is available for just 9$ while the Monk SL has a price tag of 50$. Here are my impressions between these two:-
>Cat Ear MiMi is easier to drive when compared with 64 Ohms Monk SL.
>MiMi has more upfront vocals.
>MiMi has a tangle-free cable.
>Monk SL sounds more open, wider with a superb stage presence.
>Monk SL Bass is cleaner, more precise.
>Monk SL shows better extensions on both ends.
>Monk SL doesn’t get shouty even at louder volumes.
These might make the Monk SL look a better buy, but It has a price tag that is five times of MiMi.
Considering the price, the MiMi is a steal of an earphone, It is very very easy to drive, it performs pretty well considering its price point. If you are looking to buy a pair under the 10$ price point, the CEA MiMi is the one to consider. Previously I had the standard Ve Monk Plus as my favorite pair of earbuds under the 10$ price segment. Now the Cat Ear MiMi goes head to head with that outstanding gem. This is a really big thing to say considering this is the very first pair of earphones from the brand. I see huge potential in Cat Ear Audio, looking forward for more products from them.
The Mimi is a product by CatEar brand in the starting price range costing at $10 only. It comes in small packaging inside small black box which contains a small nice round case with earbuds inside it.
The build quality of Mimi is top-notch with a 1.2m crystalline oxygen-free copper cable with silver plating. The cable looks & feel high-quality with an added advantage that it never gets tangled. The case itself is cute & cat-lovers will be envy of you after seeing it. It can be easily be driven of phone but it also shines really well with amplification.
The Bass is two notches lower than the neutral line but comes well with rest of the spectrum. Sub bass isn't much & rolls off quickly. Mid Bass is good but lacks
the body or thump. Just like most of the earbuds bass is not selling point here. Genres like EDM Dubsteps will not provide the feel which one will want out. But alas what more you can expect from a 10$ product. Bass there is well represented & doesn't hinder with Mids. It presents a cleaner background, personally I would have liked a little more punch. Bass is overall Good & comes out well with rest of the frequency response.
Mids is the area where they really shine. Sometimes makes you wonder if you are really listening to a $10 earbuds. Clarity & Details shine out with the mids. Vocals be it male or female sound good. Mids being on the forward side have an airy presentation. There is touch more focus on the lower mids than the upper but still not to the point where it feels too unnatural. Mids have little sweeter touch to them.
Treble is good. I would have liked a little more refinement to this area but still it is fine. They do not sound hard but there is no shine either. There is little roll-of on the higher end. Overall it comes out good & have good synergy with the Mids.
Soundstage and imaging in the overall perceived area is great too. You will be able to hear all the different instruments popping in & out around your ears. It has an airy presentation with good width and height though depth is lacking. I do not expect anything more in the area with the price point it is being sold. Presentation is top-notch. Transition from the center to left & right are is quite good. I also tested it with Netflix watching movies & series & was surprised to
see how great all the different sounds in a scene were well represented. The separation qualities shown there were just too great for its price point.
Its a must for those who watch a lot of entertainment stuffs while lying on their bed or couch.
What was not expected was its performance with little amplification .Using it with Fiio E17 (the old Dark horse in entry level) Mimi shined really well bringing
quality of life improvement in Mids & Bass. Details were more pronounced & overall presentation was much better. Same I will mention in its delivery with the Ifi iCAN.
Mimi vs RY4C (300 ohms) with Fiio E17.
Mimi is on the sweeter side while Ry4c is little heavier in the tonality but only when compared. With Ry4c you get a picture of more blacker background.Listening to music X2C from trouboi, Violin are clear & upfront in Mimi whereas its the bass which brings up the presentation with ry4c. Ry4c has better slam & authority. Ry4c has more depth whereas Mimi shines in height. Mimi is more upfront, it will sound much more energetic in Mids departement than Ry4c. Ry4c does provide more auhtority in Bass department but not much.
Overall it was Mimi which was a little more on the enjoyable side. You have to had more focus on the sound produced by ry4c to hear the same details which were easily perceived on the Mimi. Listening to CloZee - Koto Mimi shines in its delivery of the track & presentation of different instruments. No doubt Mimi is the more musical of two but not at the cost of details. Call of Slience by Hiroyuki Sawano was the only song which sounded better on Ry4c from a large number of tracks I tested with. If you aren't a basshead then Mimi is the more musical choice b/w the two.
Have to say that Cat-Ears have done a marvelous job in bringing out such a product at such an affordable price range. Not-only it punches much above its price-point when it comes to sound but along with the case provided & good quality cable it is a no-brainer. This has to be in your collection if you are an earbud lover.